It’s December 1st.
In our house that means a trip to the dusty corners of our attic to haul down the holiday boxes. Ours are nothing fancy – plain cardboard boxes, sealed with packing tape, with “Christmas” scrawled on the side in Sharpie.
But pulling them out and unpacking them always creates a little spark of excitement and anticipation. All the decorations are there – the Christmas stockings, lights, and ornaments. But my favorite box to open? The box full of Christmas books.
Ten years ago, when Jack was born, we started a special box just for Christmas books. The box comes out at the beginning of December with the Christmas decorations, and goes back to the attic whenever I happen to get organized in January. For the little kids, after 11 months away, the books feel new and exciting. For me, they feel like old friends – the worn copy of Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the collection of Jan Brett books, and the classics – like The Night Before Christmas.
Each year, we add one to two to the collection. This year, I am eyeing this one for Margaret: All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. I loved these books when I was little.
After 10 years, we have a pretty good collection. Here are my favorites:
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson) – This chapter book is about a Christmas pageant that goes off the rails. It was published in 1972 and some parts are a little dated – but the wild, messy Herdman kids are timeless. A great funny book to read to your kids.
The Night Before Christmas (Clement Clarke Moore)- There are so many beautifully illustrated options for this classic – but I love this version.
Peter Spier’s Christmas (Peter Spier – but out of print) – No words, just lovely illustrations of a family preparing for Christmas.
The Tomten (Astrid Lindgren) – Not really a holiday book – but it made it to our box and has stayed there. A quiet book about a Tomten (a little elf) who watches over a farm during the cold winter months.
Christmas in Noisy Village (Picture Puffin) (Astrid Lindgren) – If I had to pick my favorite Christmas book, this might be it. By the author of Pippi Longstocking, it’s about three neighboring families celebrating Christmas. Every Christmas tradition in the book is sweet and timeless (baking cookies, delivering presents, eating special meals with your family) and inspires me to simplify our holiday activities.
Morris’ Disappearing Bag (Rosemary Wells) – Morris finds a special present under the tree.
Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Book Ever! (Richard Scarry) – All sort of stories about Christmas in Busytown.
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story (Cynthia Rylant) – A man donates presents each year to children in an Appalachian town. It is almost impossible for me to read this one to my kids without getting a little choked up.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Classic Seuss) (Dr. Seuss) – A classic.
Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury (Jan Brett) – A collection of Jan Brett books – including The Mitten.
What would you add to this list? Do you have a holiday book tradition?